During these last years, passenger vehicles have been equipped with an increasing number of sensors, in an effort to monitor and control their behavior in terms of global performance and emissions. This, together with constantly increasing Electronic Control Unit (ECU) computing power and data storage capabilities, allowed the development of more efficient engine–vehicle control strategies. In this perspective, new sensors will be employed as soon as their use will be shown to be necessary to design new engine control and diagnostic strategies, and their cost and expected life will be compatible with on-board application. A sensor that has been largely studied in recent years is the in-cylinder pressure one: advanced engine control strategies that make use of the signal coming from such a sensor have been investigated, while reliable and low-cost sensors are being developed to survive for the vehicle life the harsh on-board environment. The signal coming from the in-cylinder pressure is in fact very rich in information and could be used for example to improve engine torque management (by directly computing the instantaneous indicated torque), to improve Air/Fuel Ratio (AFR) control, misfire and knock detection capabilities, engine emission estimation (to be used for DeNOX catalysts purging management as an example), residual gas fraction estimation, … Many sensor concepts have been developed, although none seems to actually meet both the precision and low-cost requirements necessary for on-board application. This work deals with defining the sensor precision characteristics necessary to effectively implement the aforementioned engine control and diagnostic capabilities improvements. In particular it will be shown that only the low-frequency signal content has to be precisely measured and is critical for certain application. In addition the importance of a correct reference of the in-cylinder pressure signal is discussed, and a novel methodology to quickly obtain this information once the engine has been setup with a proper in-cylinder pressure sensor is discussed.

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